For one week in March, EADA Business School’s campus in Collbato transforms into a model refugee camp. Here participants from different programmes at EADA meet to take part in an innovative elective offered on Managing Humanitarian Emergencies. As one of the most highly evaluated courses at the school, it introduces participants to the main components required to respond to humanitarian emergencies. I spoke with Giorgia Miotto, External Relations and Communication Director, and Dr. David Noguera, founder of the course at EADA Business School, about this unique course.
What is the Managing Humanitarian Emergencies class?
Managing Humanitarian Emergencies is an elective course open to students from all programmes across campus. The course is given by Dr. David Noguera, cofounder and manager of ReAccio Humanitaria, an institution devoted to preparing for, training teams, and creating awareness around humanitarian emergencies. He is also a professor at EADA.
The aim of the course is to train students to respond efficiently in extreme situations. More specifically, the course is based on the Triple Bottom Line sustainability parameters:
- The sustainability of profits, which has to do with the company’s economic sustainability,
- The sustainability of people, who work for the organization, purchase its products, services or live in the surrounding area, and
- The sustainability of the planet and environmental supply chain management
Why provide such a course?
The main goal is to show how humanitarian organisations achieve positive results reducing mortality, morbidity and suffering of populations in precarious situations. It is also a way to learn different ways to manage highly independent teams with a focus on achieving results. Extreme situations are often a good test to test our abilities to make complex decisions.
Dr. Noguera, who started the course, believes that in this day and age it is necessary to establish a dialogue between the corporate and humanitarian sectors. Companies need to not only be aware of humanitarian crisis and actions, but also understand if they have a role to play. Apart from this, there are also a lot of professional opportunities in the humanitarian field.
What are the key features of the course?
The course helps students make choices in complex settings and contests, as an individual or as a member of a company, through very interactive training. In one part of the course they plan a comprehensive response to a refugee population by designing, planning and deploying key activities in a refugee reception centre. Key benefits include:
- Shared values: Raising awareness of individual and corporate social responsibilities
- Improving teamwork: Dividing up roles and responsibilities in order to achieve goals in a fast, flexible and reactive way that reflects work in the field
- Enduring and solving crisis situations: Facing crises affecting people’s lives is the daily challenge of humanitarian organisations
- Learning about humanitarian action: As a professional field or as a matter of interest
What have been some of the challenges? Successes?
Our main challenge is to get students to join this training, as they are unaware of the massive potential for collaboration between the private and humanitarian sector and how their professional profiles can fit into the humanitarian field. They believe humanitarian work is for doctors, logisticians, teachers and sociologists, but, in fact, there is a large variance in managerial profiles.
A second challenge is the lack of knowledge of what happens in the humanitarian field more generally.
The major successes are solving the challenges previously mentioned. But above all, the most important success is that participants leave the training with a deeper sense of responsibility and awareness about the suffering of the populations most in need, and with some tools and deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities to engage in contributing to the improvement of this situation.
What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?
I would challenge them to ask themselves why they shouldn’t provide such an opportunity to their students. In the same way an economy, information or politics are global, the humanitarian crisis has a global impact that obliges all actors and stakeholders to decide how they can engage and contribute to improving the situation. Raising awareness and capacitating current and future leaders is a solid step in a good direction.
What’s next for the initiative?
We would like to grow and reach more people by shifting from an optional training to a compulsory and transversal one attended by all students so that we can increase and maximise impact.